Focus Features announced today it will release the documentary Every Body from Academy Award® nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Julie Cohen (RBG) on June 30, 2023. Produced in partnership with NBC News Studios, Every Body is a revelatory investigation of the lives of intersex people. The film tells the stories of three individuals who have moved from childhoods marked by shame, secrecy, and non-consensual surgeries to thriving adulthoods after each decided to set aside medical advice to keep their bodies a secret and instead came out as their authentic selves. Actor and screenwriter River Gallo (they/them), political consultant Alicia Roth Weigel (she/they), and Ph.D. student Sean Saifa Wall (he/him) are now leaders in a fast-growing global movement advocating for greater understanding of the intersex community and an end to unnecessary surgeries. Woven into the story is a stranger-than-fiction case of medical abuse, featuring exclusive footage from the NBC News archives, which helps explain the modern-day treatment of intersex people.
Cohen directed the project alongside producers Tommy Nguyen and Molly O'Brien and consulting producer Shana Knizhnik. Executive Producers are Elizabeth Fischer, Liz Cole, Noah Oppenheim and Andy Berg. Focus will release the film in the U.S., with Universal Pictures International handling international distribution.
“I’m so excited for people to see Saifa, Alicia and River’s mind-blowing and empowering life stories,” said Julie Cohen. “To partner with Focus Features and my longtime friends at NBC News Studios to bring this movie to the world is both an honor and a thrill.”
Shana Knizhnik commented, “As an intersex person who was – like Saifa, Alicia, and River – kept in the dark about my own body for far too long, I am thrilled that this film will shine a spotlight on their stories, and the story of our entire community. In a time when false conceptions of ‘biology’ are being weaponized like never before, this film shows once and for all that life is so much more than XX and XY, and that is a beautiful thing.”
“NBC News Studios is honored to present this underrepresented and misunderstood community with such compelling stories,” said Molly O’Brien, Head of Documentary. “We’re thrilled to collaborate again with our wonderful partners at Focus Features and with our long-time colleague Julie Cohen, whose ease and dexterity as a director, and ability to always find the love, truly set her films apart.”
Added Kiska Higgs, President of Production & Acquisitions at Focus Features, “Focus is proud to distribute a second film with our colleagues and friends at NBC News Studios, helmed by the wonderful Julie Cohen. Our collective hope is that EVERY BODY furthers understanding around what it can mean to be intersex, a significant part of the population far too long excluded from conversation.”
It is estimated that up to 1.7% of the world’s population is born with intersex traits, according to The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The term intersex is used to describe people born with physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical definitions of male or female. These traits may be evident at birth, emerge at puberty, or become apparent later in life.
Julie Cohen is an Academy Award® nominated, Emmy winning director and producer of RBG, along with Betsy West. Other theatrical documentaries she's directed with West include the Oscar shortlisted JULIA and the Peabody winning My Name is Pauli Murray. Solo directing projects include Berlinale Official Selection The Sturgeon Queens, and the New York Emmy winning Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing. Before starting her own production company, Better Than Fiction,Julie was a producer for Dateline NBC.
Focus Features and NBC News Studios previously collaborated on the 2020 documentary The Way I See It, an unprecedented look behind the scenes of two of the most iconic Presidents in American History, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, as seen through the eyes of renowned photographer Pete Souza. Focus’ upcoming slate includes Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers, an untitled comedy from Ethan Coen; Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society; A.V Rockwell’s A Thousand And One; Bill Holderman’s Book Club: The Next Chapter; My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 from Nia Vardalos; Zelda Williams’ Lisa Frankenstein; Goran Stolevski’s Of An Age;Vasilis Katsoupis’s Inside and Bobby Farrelly’s Champions,among others.
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